Cardwell Hill Cellars Review
Address: 24241 Cardwell Hill Dr. Philomath,Oregon 97370.
Phone Number: 541-929-9463
Tasting Hours: May-Nov 12:00-5:30 and by appt.
Region: Willamette Valley AVA, Oregon
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 7/2/2014
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Wow, who gets to live there?
Thats what I said when I first saw the house situated on the grounds of the Cardwell Hill Cellars winery. Its more of an estate, actually. And its gorgeous, just like the vineyards and the landscape around the Cardwell Hill tasting room.
The Place:  This is truly an idyllic setting located in the southern portion of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Besides the scenery, which includes the estate, the vineyards, and the luxurious hills around Corvallis, the tasting room boasts a great patio for sitting and having a glass (or several) and enjoying the weather and the atmosphere. We unfortunately hit Cardwell Hill at the end of the afternoon or we might have spent more time on the patio!
Oddly, the inside of the tasting room doesnt seem to match the outside. The bar is nice, and neatly laid out, but the rest of the tasting room is pretty sparse. Theres only one table in a fairly large space; its as if patrons are encouraged to go outside. Even the décor seems a bit out of place. We were the only ones there on a weekday afternoon and when the tasting room is that empty, there needs to be music on to fill the dead air, in my opinion.
The People:  We met Katrina, who is, according to her business card, the general manager. She was gracious with her time and information, and she gave us a great recommendation for a seafood restaurant in Newport where we had dinner that evening. The odd thing was how she poured a taste and then leaned back against the counter to watch our reaction. I felt oddly scrutinized, and even a bit uncomfortable. Id prefer the pourer either back off and let us talk about the wine, or taste the wine with us, providing us information about the wine and the winery.
The Wines:  I really enjoyed Cardwell Hills wines. So, apparently, do the people at Wine Spectator; the 2006 Pinot Noir made the Top 100 list, and there have been several Wine Spectator scores of 89, 90, 91, and 92. Im not a huge fan of Rosé, but Cardwell Hill’s is off-dry and quite drinkable. Novice wine drinkers in particular would enjoy it. The Pinot Gris tastes of green apples, like many Pinot Grigios Ive tasted in the past. Where it started to get really good was when I tasted the Blanc de Noir; thats a smooth wine with just a hint of sweetness.
There were three Pinot Noirs, all different from each other, and ALL great. We had a 2012 estate bottled Pinot that was very heavy on the berries. Then came the 2011 estate bottled Pinot, with raspberry and a hint of nutmeg. This one got 91 points from Wine Spectator and at least that from me, and from the friends I brought it home for! Steve really enjoyed the reserve 2011 Pinot Noir, which had an elegant nose and tasted of blackberries and spice, but nothing was overpowering. These wines are what I was expecting when I traveled to Oregon to taste Pinot Noir.
The Experience:  I really appreciated the wines and the scenery at Cardwell Hill, but the tasting experience itself was a little lacking. Id recommend making a visit with other wine lovers and coming prepared to spend some time enjoying the wine and taking it all in. Bring a picnic.